Camp kline

There is a Boy Scout camp at Bonnell Flats which we have passed many times. We stopped to investigate for the first time yesterday in the continuing drizzle. We passed several newly built lean-to shelters but what attracted our interests and attentions most were the older structures. The abandoned camp included an infirmary, a workshop, a storage shed, a combined well house and electrical shed, and three capacious bunk houses. It was clear, even from the short distance which separates the camp from the trail, that this place was of a vintage that placed its original construction somewhere in the 1960s. It had been abandoned and vandalized. What struck us however was that the vandalism was of an unusual sort. Sure there were signs that kids had forced the padlocks but the majority of the damage had been wrought by the weather and by opportunistic plants and animals. A large Pine lay across the corner of the storage shed, a large hole in the roof and collapsed walls were evidences of its impact. The roofs of the other structures were waterlogged and populated by molds and other fungi. The tiled floors were covered with a thick layer of the evidences of rodents. There were may holes in the outside walls where they met the floor.  I do not think these were produced by human feet or hands. There was something about the patterned tooth marks around the circumferences of these that told of the modus operandi used by rodents and other four-legged creatures to gain access to the relative warmth and shelter of the bunk houses. Mattresses, bed springs, chair, desks, and several wood stoves … abandoned and subject to the degrading influence of neglect were all there. Why, we thought, had sound and useful structures been abandoned? We do not know. Perhaps there had been a time, in the history of this camp, when Scouts simply did not come. Or perhaps the cost of upkeep exceeded whatever income the camp was able to generate. In any case, letting these structures succumb to the inexorable pull of entropy seems a shame.

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9 thoughts on “Camp kline

  1. It is a shame that Camp Kline was abandoned. Starting in the 70’s the Boy Scout movement was deteriorating much like America in general. It was a matter of economics. The West Branch Boy Scout council was combined with the Susquehanna council and the Boy Scouts started using Camp Karoondinha of that council. Camp Kline’s suspension bridge was removed as was most of the buildings for lumber including the Mess Hall; which was a historic landmark in its own right. It was a roller skating rink which was torn down and reassembled at Camp Kline to be used as the mess hall and kitchen. I worked in that mess hall as the Steward in charge .of the other boys working in the kitchen during the summers of 1960 thru 1964 when I was a Boy Scout in Troop 64 in Lock Haven. For years there was two Totem poles which stood at each end of the parade field showing that something special must have been on this site and a mystery to many visitors who knew nothing about the Camp. Eventually someone(s) removed the totem poles and there is nothing left at the site as a remembrance of all the great days of scouting that occurred there for so many years. Time moves on and unfortunately there is no marker, shrine, or photos existing (at least on the internet) to show that anything ever happened on a strip of land along Pine Creek that so many young men had so many good times and fond memories of. Here’s remembering Les Dowling the caretaker (and his daughter Donna who was in my class in High School) during those years 1956-1964 when I camped or worked there. Thanks Mr. Barrett for being such a great Scout Master and Thanks to Mr. Berkabile for being a great Council Member. May many other Scouters like me remember the good times at Camp Kline.

    1. Thanks Dave, so very much, for your extended description of Camp Kline. Although we have moved away from PA I will always remember the spot as an evocative and beautiful one. My wife and I walked the Rail Trail there often and paused to recognize the beauty of the place every-single-time. I wonder if there is a store of historical photos of the place somewhere?

  2. I have happy memories of Camp Kline. Girl Scouts used the camp as well. I remember walking across the “swinging bridge” to get to the camp. It was pretty exciting!

    1. Hey! Thanks for letting me know that the Girl Scouts enjoyed equal time out there. It’s a real shame that the place hasn’t been kept up. The spot has so much potential. It must have been a real delight to have been able to stay out there. Joanna reports that she has seen the foundation anchors for the bridge you mentioned – she’ll have to point them out to me next time we’re out there. Thanks for writing. D

  3. I find this one of the strangest phenomena of our modern capitalist system, this abandonment of capital assets. [I’m probably not using that term in any correct technical sense.] It is so prevalent, and obvious in rural settings, but by no means at all rare in urban settings. Empty big box stores litter the landscape of commercial strips. Why is it so easy to throw out and start over, rather than rehabilitate? I think it must be our tax and banking laws, which make new construction so much more attractive. I do love the photos, especially that glow of reflected color from the edge of the drawer on the desk … leading to the same color in the trees outside … another reduction in the distance between the two. Your colors seem to be moving towards surrealism (again, not good use of a technical term). I mean a heightened sense of the intellectual and emotional meaning of the scene … not necessarily true to reality but true to the meaning. Actually, maybe that was a good use of the word 🙂 Nice work, Dave.

    1. Wow … A+ for your analysis of my (totally unconscious) artistic motivations! You were spot on, that is certainly what was going through my mind when I increased the saturation in the windows and decolored the remainder of the image of the upper photo in the Camp Kline post. You have put into words what I’ve been thinking … that you can enhance the meaning (wrong word … but you know what I mean) of a particular image by manipulating color saturation, contrast, and brightness. I think it’s really cool that you saw this. Thanks for putting into words what I could not. Joanna was looking over my shoulder when I first read your comment … and I said, “How does she know this stuff?” and Joanna said, “That’s her thing … and she’s very good at it.” Yup! Thanks again. D

  4. Another great set of shots. The b/w adds to the neglect of the place. Kind of strange that the owners never found other uses for the buildings. I’m sure finances were an issue. You sure do manage to find all sorts of interesting places to photograph near your home!

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